What is “Academy”?

This may be a stupid question, but I never showed as a younger rider so it never really mattered to me to find out before.  But I had a conversation with some folks last week and we were talking about how to make shows more friendly to backyard owners.  One idea that was suggested was to have more Academy classes.  It was implied that other breeds have thriving Academy programs, and if we were to follow suit it might bump up the participation at shows.  I feel ignorant asking this, but I don’t really even know what that means.

In doing a bit of web searching, I did come across a website for the National Academy Championships.  But nothing jumps out at me for defining what “Academy” is, and I’m too lazy to dig through it and find out what exactly constitutes an Academy Program/class.  Are there breed/discipline specific things, or is it strictly focused on riders?  What’s the scoop here?

6 Responses to What is “Academy”?

  1. leslie says:

    Academy classes are strictly for lesson riders who have never shown in regular classes and they must be mounted on horses regularly used in a lesson program. There’s no breed restriction, they just have to be lesson horses, so you’ll see everything from ponies to Friesians to Heinz 57 in those classes.

    The riders usually wear jods, button down shirts, vests, and ties, but on the winter circuit sometimes it’s jods and a sweater. They cannot show in a full suit or wear a derby. Most of the kids wear helmets, but they don’t appear to be required (inexplicably.) Once you’ve shown in a full suit, you’re no longer eligible for academy.

    There are academy eq. and academy pleasure classes, they’re broken up into leadline, walk/trot, and walk/trot/canter and also divided by age group, including adults. Sometimes there are hunt seat (and maybe western?) academy classes, too.

    I had never heard of academy classes until I was in college. I don’t think we had them on my local circuit until very recently. Down here in Kentucky it’s a pretty big thing for the Saddlebred barns. It is nice because owning a show horse is such a huge investment. A lot of riding students might never have the chance to own a show horse, but the ASB circuit is far too competitive here to stick a lesson horse in a class.

    I think there are some Morgan shows that are offering academy classes. There are also the UPHA winter tournaments that a lot of Morgan barns do. Those are not restricted to non-show riders (I don’t think?) but they do draw lesson kids on lesson horses, and don’t allow full show clothes, so it’s a good way for beginners to experience showing without having to give up luxuries like eating and heating their house to afford it.

  2. smskelly says:

    Academy is restricted to people and horses in lesson programs. Riders do not wear full show attire (generally everything but a jacket), and must wear an approved helmet. Horses must be part of a lesson program. Classes are offered by age groups, including adults, in walk-trot and walk-trot-canter. Academy is big in the ASB world, and is a way to get lesson students exposed to the horse show world without the expense of doing the rated part of the show. I do know that some Morgan shows have tried adding academy classes, and I personally think it’s a great idea.

  3. smskelly says:

    @leslie – helmets not required? Ok…the ones I’m familiar with require helmets. Must be a local thing.

  4. RaeOfLight says:

    Hey, this sounds like something cool! Definitely a good way to include younger riders who can’t afford to own a show horse. And also a good way for some less experienced riders who aren’t ready to play with the “big dogs” a way to get some ring time. I’m all over that… not that my opinion matters since I’m not a trainer who’s bringing kids to shows, nor do I have any kids of my own. But it sounds like a really cool idea.

    For those of you who have seen this emerging in Morgan (or multi-breed) shows, have you noticed an increased attendance at those shows? Or at least an ability to maintain numbers over the last few years that might be attributed to offering those classes?

  5. Trisha says:

    At the Dayton horse show, they have one session just for Acedemy (Saturday morning I believe). It’s a mostly saddlebred show and their acedemy numbers don’t seem to be struggling at all. It’s not a huge show by any means, but it looked to me like there were more academy kids than Morgans this year.

Leave a Reply